Iceland’s Pylsur (Hot Dog) History

Serving Pylsur at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur stand that has been in Reykjavik since 1937.

Serving Pylsur at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur stand that has been in Reykjavik since 1937.

As we rounded the corner there was a line up of people waiting for …. Hot dogs.

After watching a stunning symphony orchestra performance at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, we walked across the street to the famous hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. Hot Dogs, and particularly those from this famous stand, are known to be a perfectly acceptable “after theatre dining out experience.”

Pylsur is Icelandic for hot dog and this popular street food is sold all over the country at gas stops and take out stands.

It is definitely the most affordable ($4) meal in Iceland.

It may not seem historic in the true sense of the word, but the Baejarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand has been proudly serving dogs since 1937. I was in Reykjavik in the winter of 1973 and remember buying a hot dog from what must have been that very same stand.                                                                                                 Many famous people have dined there since my visit.

The wiener in these tasty hot dogs is made from lamb with some beef and pork added. Because of Iceland’s high standards, only grass fed, organic lamb is used to make the pylsur.

The pylsur are served in a bun, on a bed of crunions, (crunchy dehydrated fried onions.) Although they serve several types of hot dog toppings, the usual are ketchup, remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce that contains a sweet relish and sweet mustard. “With the works,” say most, or in Icelandic “eina med öllu”

A line up at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, that has been serving Iceland hot dogs since 1937.

A line up at the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, that has been serving Iceland hot dogs since 1937.

Now, hot dogs may be considered to be at the bottom of the food chain, but this food definitely comes with a history.

National Day is celebrated each year on June 17, which is the day that Iceland declared itself to be a republic in 1944. Hot dogs and

Coca-Cola (kok) are popular fare on that day. Coca-Cola has a long history in Iceland and has higher per capita sales than any other country.

There are many Danish influences in Iceland’s food history and pylsur is similar to the Danish pölse. In the early 1900’s, vendors in Denmark sold sausage and often they became too old to be easily sold. Creative, poor, vendors tried dipping them in red dye and lowering the prices and the rest was Danish hot dog history.

Although hot dogs in Iceland are quite different from Danish Dogs, the idea likely travelled from Denmark.

I joined the after- theatre line for a pylsur, and then enjoyed a few more before leaving Iceland.

Every meat-eating visitor to Iceland should give it a try.

Coca-Cola has been consumed heavily in Iceland for many years.

Coca-Cola has been consumed heavily in Iceland for many years.

A fully loaded Pylsur is donned with crunions, ketchup and remoulade.

A fully loaded Pylsur is donned with crunions, ketchup and remoulade.

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